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Lawsuit

25 Apr 2013

Danzer Group lawsuit (re Dem. Rep. Congo, filed in Germany)

Status: CLOSED

Incident date
April 25, 2013
Unknown
Community
Location of Filing: Germany
Location of Incident: Congo (the Democratic Republic of the)
Type of Litigation: Transnational

Companies

Danzer Germany Logging & lumber

Sources

Snapshot: In March 2012, NGOs filed complaints against Danzer's former subsidiary SIFORCO in the Democratic Republic of Congo, alleging that SIFORCO aided and abetted human rights abuses by Congolese police and military during an attack on the village of Bongulu. In 2019, a military court sanctioned officers and imposed a fine on the government, but found the company not guilty.

In April 2013, NGOs filed a criminal complaint against a senior manager of Danzer Group in Germany. In March 2015, the public prosecutor’s office discontinued the investigations.

Pour la version française de ce profil, cliquez ici

Für die deutsche Beschreibung des Falles, klicken Sie hier.

On 2 May 2011, the village of Bongulu in northern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) was allegedly attacked by Congolese police and military.  During the attack several human rights abuses took place, such as rape and arbitrary arrests of villagers.  Senior staff of Danzer Group, a Swiss and German timber manufacturer, allegedly aided and abetted these abuses by failing to prevent these crimes from being committed.  In addition, Congolese security forces reportedly received financial and logistical help from Danzer’s former subsidiary, SIFORCO (now part of Blattner).  Danzer and SIFORCO deny the accusations.  They insist that they did not facilitate violence against local communities in DRC and that the events of 2 May happened outside their control and responsibility.

For proceedings in Dem. Rep. Congo, see SIFORCO lawsuit (re Dem. Rep. Congo, filed in Dem. Rep. Congo)

Proceedings in Germany

On 25 April 2013, the NGOs European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights (ECCHR) and Global Witness filed a criminal complaint in Germany against Olof von Gagern, a senior manager of Danzer Group.  The complaint alleges von Gagern was complicit in human rights abuses committed during the attack on the village of Bongulu by failing to prevent it.  Under German law, corporations cannot be prosecuted for crimes.  Senior managers may, however, have criminal responsibility arising from a duty of care towards those affected by the actions of their employees. In March 2015, the public prosecutor’s office in Tübingen discontinued the investigations.

Further reading

- “The Global Lawyer: Kiobel's Continental Cousins”, Michael D. Goldhaber, American Lawyer, 15 May 2013
- “German court investigates raid on Congolese village”, Katrin Matthaei, Deutsche Welle, 8 May 2013
- “Danzer Denies Human-Rights Abuses in Congolese Forest Village”, Michael J. Kavanagh, Bloomberg, 27 Apr 2013
- [DE] “Der Mord im Dorf”, Andera Boehm, Die Zeit, 25 April 2013

Danzer:
- “Statement of Danzer regarding the occurrences at Yalisika in 2011”, Danzer Group, 26 Apr 2013

European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights (ECCHR):
- [PDF] "Special newsletter: Criminal complaint against senior manager of Danzer: Accountability for human rights violations in the Democratic Republic of Congo", 25 Apr 2013
- “Criminal complaint filed accuses senior manager of Danzer Group of responsibility over human rights abuses against Congolese community“, 25 Apr 2013

- [PDF] [FR] « Plainte déposée accusant un cadre dirigeant du groupe Danzer d'être responsable de violations des droits de l'Homme contre une communauté congolaise », 25 avril 2013
- “Strafanzeige gegen leitenden Mitarbeiter der Danzer Group wegen Menschenrechtsverletzungen in der Demokratischen Republik Kongo“, 25. Apr 2013

Case Timeline